This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Sanjay K Bissoyi. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Why We Don’t Need More Water But Just Better Management Of What’s Available

More from Sanjay K Bissoyi

By Sanjay K Bissoyi:

“Everyone is calling, water, water where are you? But, she has stopped listening to us. Water, the driving force of all nature, without you no one can live on the Earth.”

A villager along with his cow walks through a parched land of a dried pond on a hot day on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar in the eastern Indian state of Odisha May 2, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer (INDIA - Tags: ENVIRONMENT ANIMALS) - RTR3NINA
Image credit: Reuters/Stringer.

Water shortage in recent times has become a major concern for our agriculture and economy as summers stroll in. The beginning of summer dryness this year is a bit early with drought in several states, including Maharashtra, which in fact sends chills down the spines of millions of farmers across the country. What a paradox it is for our country’s agriculture which suffers losses when India has an untapped resource of 4 trillion cubic metres of water (through rainfall) which means sufficient drinking water being available for every person daily throughout the year. We suffer a dire shortage of water since a lot of the available surface water is wasted in India due to lack of prudent management.

The drought condition of Maharashtra is a result of a poor water management system that includes poor water reservoirs, irrigation, and rainwater harvesting. It is inefficiency, and lack of social responsibility that have led Maharashtra and other drought affected areas to such extremes.

Government’s Role

The implementation of schemes and agricultural assistance alone cannot suffice. Educating the multitude of farmers, awareness campaigns, sustainable development, and good governance is what the government needs to do.

Every government must consider providing sufficient water for farmers since many are not acquainted with systematic methods to battle extreme conditions. Almost every poor farmer relies on the government for it is the leaders who form the government who promise to elevate them from the pathetic condition in every election. But providing facilities for the farmer without prudent governance to administer the system will simply not lead to any progress for our farmers.

The government should keep a strict watch on construction and other activities as they can disrupt and paralyse the underground water networks. Despite repeated warnings, the damage caused is irreversible. Nominal GDP cannot impress the nation. Jobs created by destroying natural resources, wiping clean our forests, will not elevate the destitute. Real growth can only be achieved when the production is high but at a low cost. Environmental degradation has introduced us to many challenges. Poor farmers and village dwellers should in fact be awarded for protecting forest resources and for their concern to safeguard the natural habitat from exploitation by multinational companies.

The government can perform better by focusing on the significance of proper maintenance of dams, lakes when they go dry, strengthening embankments, deepening of reservoirs to augment storage capacity and productivity.

Respective state governments must be ever prepared to battle extreme conditions when drought, soil erosion, and disaster hit the region. Each drop of rainwater counts and must be saved and harvested. Sustenance in future depends on prudential management in the present. Tens of thousands of tanks, irrigation canals, watersheds, reservoirs, and ponds need to be constructed in water-starved areas like Latur to harvest the rainwater and save it, which, in the longer run, would augment the ground water in the area.

A Tale Of Dryness

The spectre of fresh water crisis looms not only in Maharashtra but has also appeared in Odisha. Water has become a scarce commodity in rural areas of Odisha, where women trek a long distance to fetch safe water. In Paniachachu village, a tribal-dominated district in Nabarangpur, Odisha, women walk a distance of five kilometres only to bring water to their homes. In this period of scarcity, people have to bring water from irrigation ponds and wells. Among children, it is mostly girls who fetch water. They have to walk a long distance and, as a consequence of this, they face various health problems.

Tribes in Nabarangpur praying to Mother Earth for a better rainy season.
Tribes in Nabarangpur praying to Mother Earth for a better rainy season.

In my village (Gudra, 100 kilometres away from Jagdalpur, Bastar), as many as 500 people queue up at a well to get drinking water. For water for bathing and other day-to-day purposes, my people depend entirely on ponds. Every day, 500 fight to get a sip of life. And what is more ghastly is that poor people who can’t afford to buy safe water for daily use are compelled to sustain themselves with unsafe water that can breed diseases.

Nabarangpur district receives an average rainfall of 1,570 mm annually which can actually suffice. But people still suffer from an acute shortage of water due to neglect in maintenance. The present drought condition should convince us that the water shortage in India is neither natural nor due to lack of resources. It is a manmade problem. According to news reports, due to the intense heatwave, 59 deaths have been reported so far only in Odisha allegedly due to sunstroke. Despite all this, as some have claimed, several regions in Odisha are yet to receive proper relief from the government.

Fresh water scarcity needs to be mitigated quickly before it turns into a water war. A water abundant state should render assistance and educate the people in preparing for such disasters. History shows that humans have the amazing ability to conquer difficulties. So, it is time to improve water conservation management and technologies. Countries like Singapore recycle water to cut imports. Countries in the Middle East also use such methods to slake their thirst. Desalination has also been an effective solution for water crises.

An important source of water, the rain, is not harvested. India should revive the ancient rainwater harvesting systems giving them a modern touch. Worldwide, more than 70 percent of the freshwater is used for agricultural purposes. The state can close the supply and demand gap by improving irrigation facilities.

Destruction of forests on a mass scale has resulted in climate change, irregular rainfall, and soil erosion in some places and drought in other areas. So, it would be apt to mention here that deforestation is not only a major factor in the reduction and uncertainty of rainfall but it also leads to soil erosion, which reduces biomass availability. This can result in lower agricultural productivity. Owing to irregular and insufficient rainfall, insecurity of drinking water prevails throughout the year. Rapid felling of trees/scrubs and overgrazing have only intensified and added to the problems of excessive run-off and soil erosion.

So, let us all join hands to reverse the situation. Every child in the family should be taught about the value of natural greenery, vegetation and tree planting. Let us teach our children the benefits of simple living in a time of scarcity and adversity.

You must be to comment.
  1. Swapan Kumar Mukhopadhyay

    Ad-hocism in water management is the root cause of drought. We need to have river basin wise maps of water footprints of stakeholders
    of our country. It will help us to formulate strong national legislation for need based distribution of most precious commodity i.e. fresh water
    and control mismanagement of water resource. Moreover recycling of very large grey water foot print of industry should be encouraged by tax soap and / or punititive action.

More from Sanjay K Bissoyi

Similar Posts

By Devansh Mishra

By Martha Farrell Foundation

By Rohit Malik

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below